Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Telefónica Tech secures small business; Germany's VR startups stymied by no Meta-verse; Qualcomm proposes Arm investment.
- The TIM saga cranks on. Now Telecom Italia is looking to flog its landline network to the Italian state and a group of international funds for 20 billion euro (US$21.5 billion), according to sources talking to Bloomberg. The sale would let the embattled operator slice its debt pile, which in turn would free up much needed funds for CEO Pietro Labriola's restructuring plans. The market appears to broadly agree with the idea, as shares rose by 5.9% on the news. TIM has declined to comment.
- Telefónica Tech says their cybersecurity service "Tu Empresa Segura" – aimed at small and medium-sized businesses – now protects more than 5,500 SMEs at the end of the first year. The Spanish operator says more than 25,000 users and 125,000 devices have been protected in Spain and Chile since the April 2021 launch. The service also includes training and awareness-raising sessions on the importance of robust cybersecurity policies in companies.
- The ongoing battle between the German government and Big Tech is taking prisoners in the startup ecosystem. The Meta suite of VR headsets – formerly known as Oculus – is far and away the market leader with around 80% of the market. However, Meta stopped selling it in Germany in 2020 – completely coincidentally – less than three months after the US Supreme Court found Facebook was abusing its position and the Federal Cartel Office took an interest in the need for a Facebook account to use the headsets. This has left local startups and developers in a bit of a bind as they struggle to get their hands on the kit they need to take advantage of the current vogue for the metaverse. According to Bloomberg – this has left them having to choose between developing less popular headsets for the local market, or giving up entirely. Meta has unsurprisingly declined to comment.
- Even if he manages to survive the latest scandal involving raucous lockdown parties while the rest of the country stayed at home, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson looks more and more unlikely to succeed in his bid to keep chip designer Arm British. The latest plan involves US chipmaker Qualcomm, who wants to buy a stake in Arm and create a consortium to maintain the UK chip designer's neutrality as owner Softbank pushes on with plans to list in the US. CEO Cristiano Amon joins Intel chief Pat Gelsinger in backing the idea. If there is enough interest from other rivals, a complete buyout could be on the cards, Amon told the Financial Times.